During the days I passed in the care of the provost-marshal, I perused all the novels that the region afforded. When these were ended, I studied a copy of a well-known work on theology, and turned, for light reading, to the “Pirate’s Own Book.” A sympathizing friend sent me a bundle of tracts and a copy of the “Adventures of John A. Murrell.” A volume of lectures upon temperance and a dozen bottles of Allsop’s pale ale, were among the most welcome contributions that I received. The ale disappeared before the lectures had been thoroughly digested.
The chambermaid of the steamboat displayed the greatest sympathy in my behalf. She declined to receive payment of a washing-bill, and burst into tears when I assured her the money was of no use to me.
Her fears for my welfare were caused by a frightful story that had been told her by a cabin-boy. He maliciously represented that I was to be executed for attempting to purchase cotton from a Rebel quartermaster. The verdant woman believed the story for several days.
It may interest some readers to know that the proceedings of a court-martial are made in writing. The judge-advocate (who holds the same position as the prosecuting attorney in a civil case) writes his questions, and then reads them aloud. The answers, as they are given, are reduced to writing. The questions or objections of the prisoner’s counsel must be made in writing and given to the judge-advocate, to be read to the court. In trials where a large number of witnesses must be examined, it is now the custom to make use of “short-hand” writers. In this way the length of a trial is greatly reduced.
The members of a court-martial sit in full uniform, including sash and sword, and preserve a most severe and becoming dignity. Whenever the court wishes to deliberate upon any point of law or evidence, the room is cleared, neither the prisoner nor his counsel being allowed to remain. It frequently occurs that the court is thus closed during the greater part of its sessions. With the necessity for recording all its proceedings, and frequent stoppages for deliberation, a trial by a military court is ordinarily very slow.
In obedience to the order of the court, I left the vicinity of the Army of the Tennessee, and proceeded North.
In departing from Young’s Point, I could not obey a certain Scriptural injunction, as the mud of Louisiana adheres like glue, and defies all efforts to shake it off. Mr. Albert D. Richardson, of The Tribune, on behalf of many of my professional friends, called the attention of President Lincoln to the little affair between General Sherman and myself.
In his recently published book of experiences during the war, Mr. Richardson has given a full and graphic account of his interview with the President. Mr. Lincoln unbent himself from his official cares, told two of his best stories, conversed for an hour or more upon the military situation, gave his reasons for the removal of General McClellan, and expressed his hope in our ultimate success. Declaring it his inflexible determination not to interfere with the conduct of any military department, he wrote the following document:—